Winter, winter in Alberta especially, often creates hazard for people with mobility disabilities and feeling of isolation due to the inability to access out doors. We have a solution; the Canadian Paraplegic Association (AB) partnered with Cross Country Alberta, Ability Lodge Society (AALS), The Edmonton Nordic Ski Club, Alberta Sports, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation and community volunteers and created a program called Adapted Cross Country Skiing Edmonton (ACCSE). No matter what your ability level is or how much functions you have in your upper body, you can enjoy the Alberta winter again through cross country skiing.
Bradley, a C4 quadriplegic, injured 2 years ago was eager to try cross country skiing but had many doubts and question in the beginning. Due to his level of spinal cord injury, Bradley has no use of his arms and drives his power chair with his head. “How do I ski when I can’t move my arms?” “Will my body freeze?” “Will I get too cold?”… even with many uncertainties, Bradley came out to the first session. Volunteers helped him into a sleeping bag and sit ski, strapped him in the sit ski with a belt and provided hand warmers for the cold and Bradley was ready to go. As the volunteer pushed Bradley across the GoldBar Park, the smile and excitement on Bradley’s face became apparent. “I am having so much fun! I never thought I would be able to enjoy winter and snow again… when is the next session?” Bradley has not missed a skiing session since.
Natasha, a C7 quadriplegic was very excited to try skiing. With one arm stronger than the other, Natasha was supper pump and scared at the same time when she first sat in the sit ski. With encouragements from the rest of the skiers, her mom and volunteers, Natasha bravely hockey taped her strong arm to a ski pole and helped as much as she could with skiing. Even after a few wipe-outs and braving the somewhat cold weather, Natasha was warmed up and hooked on cross country skiing.
These are just few examples of people able to enjoy our winter out doors with different levels of mobility. Our program will be taking our skiers to the annual Birkebeiner Ski Festival (http://www.canadianbirkie.com/) on February 12, 2011 to challenge ourselves and support each other by doing the 2.5km Ole’s tour. If you interested in participating in this program next year, please contact Kuen Tang at 780-424-6312 ext 2235 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosie, Mike (Instructor), Shirley, Austin, Laurie (Double Amputee)
Natasha (C7) , Fai (T4), Bradley (C4), Kuen (C6/7) and Mathew